The Pedagogy of Pre-Brief Activities for Industrial Design Undergraduates Operating at the ‘Fuzzy Front End’ of New Product Development

DS 58-10: Proceedings of ICED 09, the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design, Vol. 10, Design Education and Lifelong Learning, Palo Alto, CA, USA, 24.-27.08.2009

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Wormald, Paul William
Series: ICED
Section: Design Education and Lifelong Learning
Page(s): 81-88


The processes of strategic innovation embedded into the so-called 'fuzzy front end' of new product development are successfully employed by global corporations. This paper describes teaching activity and pedagogic research at Loughborough University, UK that has aimed to provide industrial design undergraduates with enhanced knowledge and abilities to enable them to operate at this fuzzy front end - both for their own design projects and when seeking employment. An unusual aspect of this area of design education is that it is about thinking and actions that take place before any traditional design brief. It is upstream of the brief, or 'pre-brief'. Hence the teaching promotes the intellectual capacity to find problems rather than solve problems. Action research and evaluation research has been used to investigate pedagogic issues. Empirical evidence suggests that students can be taught to successfully operate at this fuzzy front end, and that these students employ relevant strategies to enhance innovation during the early stages of personal design work. There is also evidence from industry that indicates that the students' enhanced abilities will be in demand upon graduation.

Keywords: industrial design education, pedagogy, new product development, fuzzy front end, user research, problem finding


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